Working with Millennials

Last month, I lured a friend to Santa Fe for a surprise 50th birthday party on the pretext that I needed her help to deliver a retreat for a law firm. She asked a lot of questions, so I made up an entire retreat on the fly, including a presentation about millennials. My friend, a high school teacher, offered some fascinating insights that led me to some additional reading. My private clients are sometimes perplexed by working with millennial associates (especially when requesting nonbillable help on creating content for marketing and business development purposes), and I thought I’d share several useful resources with you today.

  • Managing Millennials in the Legal Workplace: Written by two millennial lawyers, this article is slightly (but not unreasonably) defensive about common perceptions of millennials. One piece of advice is to “[s]et clear expectations, anchor them to an actual purpose and consistently apply them.” While this advice adheres to any generation, for reasons the article explains, it’s particularly on point for millennial lawyers. You may consider setting explicit goals for millennial associates about assistance in writing articles, social media marketing, etc. and connecting the dots on how those activities will help your practice and the firm grow as well as how the millennial lawyer can expect to benefit. Experience suggests that in many cases one cannot simply expect younger associates to be pleased to perform nonbillable work, even if that’s how it was done “when I was a young associate.”
  • 2015 Is The Year Of The Millennial Customer: 5 Key Traits These 80 Million Consumers Share: Although the date in the title of this article might suggest it’s out of date, it’s anything but. One key point here is that “[m]illennials enjoy the possibility of collaborating with businesses and brands, as long as they believe their say matters to the company in question.” This perspective should influence how you work with millennial lawyers as well as how you market to them.
  • The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016: This reports states that 66% of millennials expect to leave their current employment by 2020 and offers ways to increase millennial loyalty. You might consider that today’s associate may well be tomorrow’s associate in-house counsel, which may create opportunities for you to seed and continue valuable relationships for future business development opportunities.

While a full discussion of millennial tendencies and characteristics is far beyond the scope of this article, the point remains that understanding millennials is important both to garner support for your business development activities and for growing your practice. Review these and other articles, and if at all possible, attend a CLE and/or read up on how millennial tendencies are affecting business. It’s an interesting topic with far-reaching implications.

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